Computer Crimes

California Penal Code Section 502

Under California Penal Code section 502 the term "computer crime" actually describes a variety of offenses involving the use of computers and/or Internet. Given the prevalence of modern computers usage it is sometimes surprising to learn of the activities that can be undertaken on a computer and which are actually a crime under California law. For example, California Penal Code section 502 prohibits electronic grade hacking, i.e., hacking a school's computer system to change a student's grades. Additionally, section 502 prevents an employee from copying his employer's files onto a thumbdrive without permission right before the employee quits his/her job. Alternatively, changing the password to your work computer in an effort to lock your former employer out of accessing the computer can be a felony!

If charged with a computer crime, an individual can be facing either a felony or a misdemeanor. Just as important, an individual can face a civil lawsuit by the alleged victim of the crime for monetary damages. A judge can award attorney's fees against a defendant, and in some cases where the judge finds that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 3294 of the Civil Code, the court may additionally award punitive or exemplary damages. Moreover, your computer, equipment and software can be subject to forfeiture if you are convicted.

Under California Penal Code section 502 you may have done any of the following and may or may not have known you were doing something illegal:

  1. Knowingly accesses and without permission alters, damages, deletes, destroys, or otherwise uses any data, computer, computer system, or computer network in order to either (A) devise or execute any scheme or artifice to defraud, deceive, or extort, or (B) wrongfully control or obtain money, property, or data.
  2. Knowingly accesses and without permission takes, copies, or makes use of any data from a computer, computer system, or computer network, or takes or copies any supporting documentation, whether existing or residing internal or external to a computer, computer system, or computer network.
  3. Knowingly and without permission uses or causes to be used computer services.
  4. Knowingly accesses and without permission adds, alters, damages, deletes, or destroys any data, computer software, or computer programs which reside or exist internal or external to a computer, computer system, or computer network.
  5. Knowingly and without permission disrupts or causes the disruption of computer services or denies or causes the denial of computer services to an authorized user of a computer, computer system, or computer network.
  6. Knowingly and without permission provides or assists in providing a means of accessing a computer, computer system, or computer network in violation of this section.
  7. Knowingly and without permission accesses or causes to be accessed any computer, computer system, or computer network.
  8. Knowingly introduces any computer contaminant into any computer, computer system, or computer network.
  9. Knowingly and without permission uses the Internet domain name of another individual, corporation, or entity in connection with the sending of one or more electronic mail messages, and thereby damages or causes damage to a computer, computer system, or computer network.

Redwood City, San Mateo County, Computer Crimes Defense Lawyers

You may have a defense to the charged computer crime if you were performing the actions described in paragraphs 1-9 above during the scope of your lawful employment. Other defenses may apply in your case as well. At Ahmed & Sukaram, our San Mateo criminal defense lawyers know how to help you prepare a winning defense against computer crime charges. If you are charged with a computer crime in Redwood City, San Mateo, Palo Alto, San Jose, or anywhere in the State of California, contact the dynamic legal team of Ahmed & Sukaram immediately. You are not alone-call Ahmed & Sukaram today at 1-866-477-0965 or email us through this site in order to set up a no obligation consultation.